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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, New Mexico House, New Mexico Senate, Roundhouse » Some legislators want to change liquor laws

Some legislators want to change liquor laws

Some legislators want to change liquor laws to help New Mexico businesses — whether it is the amount a small brewer is allowed to brew at a lower tax rate or expanding the hours that bars can serve alcohol on Sundays.

One that is getting the most attention is a proposal to extend the time that bars and restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays. Currently, such establishments can serve alcohol starting at noon on Sundays.

SB 154 has been introduced by Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, and would allow bars to serve alcohol starting at 10:00 am on Sundays.

“This is a good business bill,” Ryan said in a statement. “We have a lot of tourists from all over the world who come here expecting to have champagne with their Sunday brunch only to find alcoholic beverages can’t be served until noon. The sports bars which cater to the sports enthusiasts who want to watch Sunday football games are not able to serve their patrons until noon. This bill will help increase business on Sunday mornings by allowing liquor to be served at a reasonable time. More business and more employment could be the result.”

Critics say that this legislation could lead to more DWIs on Sundays as patrons spend more time at bars on Sundays watching sports — particularly NFL games.

On other days of the week, including Saturdays, bars and restaurants can serve alcohol starting at 7:00 am.

The Weekly Word podcast briefly discussed this bill near the end of last week’s episode.

Two interesting bills relate to the smaller companies producing alcoholic beverages in the state: microbrewers and small wine growers.

SB81 would increase the limit that microbreweries could make while still being considered microbreweries for tax purposes.

Currently, microbreweries can make 5,000 barrels of beer (or 157,500 gallons) per year and remain considered a microbrewery. This would likely allow the microbreweries to brew, and sell, more beer without falling into a higher tax bracket.

Currently, brewers that make less than 5,000 barrels of beer per year are taxed $.08 per gallon while those between 5,000 and 15,000 gallons are charged $0.41 per gallon.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, who described the bill as a measure to help rural microbreweries such as those in Moriarty.

“This bill is to help build up the downtown areas in rural communities like Moriarty, where the microbrewery is an attraction for tourists and for New Mexicans alike, to visit the rural setting while enjoying the gourmet-type New Mexico beers. This bill covers the small, microbreweries, not the large package beer companies,” Senator Wilson Beffort said. “The tax savings would allow the microbreweries to buy more equipment to expand their production and help increase light manufacturing jobs in the area.”

However, the measure could help breweries like Albuquerque’s La Cumbre Brewing and Marbile brewing already distributing beer made in New Mexico into Colorado

A similar bill is SB 116 which would increase the amount of wine a wine grower could grow and still have it considered a “small wine grower.”

The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.

The bill relating to wine growing has already passed the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. The microbrewery definition bill is still waiting to be heard in that committee. Ryan’s bill to expand Sunday liquor hours is still waiting to be heard in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Photo by jekert gwapo/ flickr

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Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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